ROAD TO RIO!
- By Rebekah Rejniak
- Photos Courtesy of NBC SPORTS GROUP/OLYMPICS
No matter how you look at it, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are going to be thrilling. Saying this is one of those years that you do not want to miss, is an understatement. It’s been a bumpy road so far, which is why seeing how hard Rio and the International Olympics Committee have worked is going to be such a fulfilling experience. We’ve been seeing non-stop headlines of challenging conditions in Rio and of the doping scandal in Russia, but lets focus on what really matters: sportsmanship!
Nothing beats a good, healthy athletic rivalry. Every year we watch our beloved veterans and fall in love with fresh, new talent. Who will be the standout stars this year? Lets talk about our favorites!
In 2012, Chad le Clos beat Michael Phelps by 5-100ths of a second in the 200-metre butterfly event, breaking Phelps’ winning streak in individual heats. This was one of several events that would knock Phelps out of what seemed to be a very difficult time in his life. In 2012 he announced that he would retire from swimming, then later announced in 2014 that he would un-retire. The nail in the coffin came on Sept 29, 2014 when he was arrested with a DUI, prompting him to attend a rehab in Arizona. He emerged a new man. Since then he has not missed a practice, has sworn off alcohol, and reconnected with his estranged father. He claims that for the first time in his life he is giving his 100%. Which has left the rest of the world scratching our heads and wondering… “He hasn’t been trying that hard?” Yeah, he’s a physical phenomenon. Phelps was quoted in Sports Illustrated saying “You’re going to see a different me than you saw in any of the other Olympics.” After watching him at the U.S. Nationals, Longtime coach Eddie Reese said “I think we’re going to see him go faster than he’s ever gone. He’s going to be very, very hard to beat.” Is Michael Phelps the greatest athlete to ever have lived? He is most certainly the only male swimmer to compete in five Olympics. And how lucky we are to watch him swim in what may be his last Olympic performance ever.
Now for my ladies. After much speculation and competition the ‘Fierce Five’ to compete on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team have emerged. Competition this year has been neck-to-neck, particularly between Ashton Locklear and Gabby Douglas (the spot went to Douglas). The other four to compete are: Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian. These girls are going to be fun to watch. Simone Biles currently has the most difficult vault combination in the world. Gabby Douglas fell off the beam during the Olympic Trials but still secured a place on the team due to her ability to perform her best at peak, important moments when it counts most. And relative newcomer, Laurie Hernandez has earned the nickname “Baby Shakira” due to her huge personality and sassy floor routine. Goosebumps!
This year will truly showcase what the Olympics stand for. Brazil will overcome some of its greatest challenges leading up to the games to become as great of a host as any that have come before. And isn’t that what the Olympic spirit is all about? Take for example Clarissa Shields, the feisty 17-year-old from Flint, Michigan. She comes from a poverty-stricken family with a father stuck in prison during her younger years and a mother who has struggled with addiction. She was the first U.S. woman to win a gold medal for boxing in the 2012 London Olympics. Or consider Sydney McLaughlin, another virtuoso teenager competing this year in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. And don’t forget to pencil in all of Usain Bolt’s post-event interviews. One won’t want to miss his humble declarations like; “I’m now a legend. I am the greatest athlete to live. To all the people who doubted me, who thought I would lose here, you can stop talking now. I am a living legend.”
The drama in Rio is on par with Days of Our Lives and should not be missed. How do we not already have a reality show titled “What Happens in Athlete’s Village, Stays In Athlete’s Village?”